Athletes must use social media wisely

During games, athletes already have the spotlight on them. Now with social media, the spotlight shines on their personal lives too.

Everyone, from friends and family to future employers and coaches, can view tweets on Twitter and posts on Facebook.

While that leaves student athletes with a great venue to promote themselves and their team, it can lead to disastrous results if the wrong people get a hold of inappropriate pictures or information.

“I feel as if social media can be a good resume source in terms of allowing athletes to post and share their highlights within their community,” said senior baseball player Chad Wagoner in an email interview. “However, do not be stupid.

“One embarrassing post that takes two seconds to type can stick with you for a lifetime.”

Those embarrassing posts include harsh messages to the opposing team.

“I don’t think it ever works out well,” said head women’s soccer coach Michael Shenigo. “If the other team sees it, now it is a motivation for them to come back and really get after things.”

Other student athletes and sports faculty at Guilford College advise avoiding misleading images that could reflect poorly on that person’s character.

That being said, there are many ways student athletes use social media positively.

“I use social media to pump up the team or let people know how proud I am of what my teams have done,” said sophomore swimmer Jocelyn Gesner in an email interview. “For example, after we won our first conference game, I posted: “Undefeated in conference like whaaaaatttt?! WOOP WOOP. Good game ladies!”

Since the majority of student athletes use social media to mention upcoming events and encourage their teams, Guilford’s monitoring is very loose.

“As far as I know, we do not have specific guidelines,” said sophomore football player Hayden Read in an email interview. “Our coaches do remind us frequently not to post dumb things that will get us in trouble.

“They also follow everyone’s account and monitor what they post.”

Another reason for the loose monitoring is the lack of time.

“I don’t have the opportunity to spend hours upon hours tracking down what all the students are posting on Facebook,” said Sports Information Director and Assistant Athletic Director Dave Walters. “If something catches my eye I might notify the coach, but I don’t spend a whole lot of time there.”

Instead, Guilford’s Sport Information Office will use the students as a tool to bring more traffic to the Guilford’s athletic page. Tagging students in posts and pictures bring more attention to the page and its messages.

Social media provides a powerful tool for athletes to interact with fans and future employers, as long as they find the right balance.

“Do not tweet your life,” said Walters. “Live it.”

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